There is a need for retailers to make improvements to both their back-end infrastructures and user-facing applications or portals—and to really understand how loyal consumers want to interact.
More than half (54 percent) of consumers say retailers only "meet expectations" or "inconsistently meet expectations" when asked about brands' use of technology throughout the shopping experience, according to an independent study commissioned by Mobiquity.
A mere 16 percent award retailers an "A" grade, indicating the need for retailers to make improvements to both their back-end infrastructures and user-facing applications or portals.
"Retailers need to understand their target market and identify their most loyal customers. Through research, promotion and analytics these loyalists can be identified," Eric Karofsky, director of vertical practice lead for Mobiquity, told eWEEK
. "Knowing their preferences for purposeful or serendipitous communication can help set the bar on what is possible."
For some consumers, Karofsky noted, push notification can be annoying and a red flag for those not expecting them, but some statistics state that more than 50 percent of people are willing to provide private information in exchange for some form of value.
"The key is to really understand how loyal consumers want to interact and provide interesting ways to do so that are brand aligned and measured," he explained.
When asked what they should be able to do when shopping today, 44 percent of consumers said they should be able to earn and redeem loyalty points from their mobile phone, though just 31 percent of consumers claim they can currently do this.
A third of respondents said they should be able to pay for a purchase with their mobile phone, though less than a quarter (24 percent) claim they are able to do so.
In addition, 37 percent of consumers feel retailers over-promise but under-deliver when it comes to the role technology plays in the overall shopping experience, with a third saying retailers' Websites take too long to load on mobile devices, and 31 percent feeling mobile payment technology is inconsistent, at best.
"Throughout a shopping journey, from discovery to payment to loyalty, there are multiple ways to provide a better, easier shopping experience that have very little to do with security," Karofsky said. "A few examples we've recently talked with clients about include leveraging beacons to help provide information about a product, or integrating a kiosk with a planogram and lighting to help people find products faster."
He said brands need to realize that mobile isn't just about the consumer experience—providing employees with training material via their mobile device can create much better interactions and provide new value to the in-store experience.
"However, when it comes to payment, a swift, secure experience, with loyalty embedded, is a mandatory," he said. "Ultimately, payment and in-store innovation will be tied together, but the industry isn't there just yet."
The findings also indicated that today's consumers are frustrated with inconsistent experiences across mobile devices, with 45 percent of consumers saying the user experience across devices is inconsistent and frustrating and 36 percent choosing to only use certain devices for certain activities—those they feel are best-suited for each activity.
"For smaller businesses, often it's about mobile marketing, and there are many platforms and options," Karofsky said. "Buying advertising with companies with large networks such as Foursquare and Facebook can help, or utilizing marketing software from companies like WordStream can help get the word out. Among the main considerations is how scalable is the solution, how quickly can you deploy it and, most of all, what can be measured and learned?"